Saturday 2 November 2013

My Birthday Visit to the Historical Brisbane Home MIEGUNYAH

Last Sunday was my 60th birthday. Not being a huge party person, I decided it would be nice just to have a quiet day out with my family doing things that I enjoy. So a visit to "Miegunyah" and the "Windsor and Districts Historical Society" was planned. It had been about 38 years since Karen and I had been to "Miegunyah". Throw some yummy food, such as a Devonshire Tea and lunch at Subway, into the equation and you have what to me seems a great day out.

We left early so that we could arrive at "Miegunyah" just when it opened. Unfortunately, I didn't check the opening times before we left and we turned up half an hour early. At least we weren't late. Thank goodness for electronic devices such as laptops, iPads and mobile phones to while away the spare half hour.

"Miegunyah", an aboriginal word meaning 'my house', is a heritage home from the late Victorian period, now owned by the Queensland Women's Historical Association. It was built in the 1880s and is located at Jordan Terrace, Bowen Hills in Brisbane. It was purchased by the Queensland Women's Historical Association in March 1967 and opened as a house museum in June 1968. "Miegunyah" is on the Register of the National Estate, on the Queensland Heritage Register and classified 'A' by the National Trust. It is considered to be a particularly well preserved and fine example of a typical large Queenslander built in Brisbane in the last quarter of the 19th century. You can read more about "Miegunyah's" history here.

We were met at the door by our guide, a lovely lady named Marita, and invited into the entry hall. Marita's guided tour of the home bought everything to life. She knew the home's history well and many other interesting things about how the former residents would have lived. Although I have been interested in antiques and their history for most of my life, I still learnt many new things from Marita. For example, the numerous starched collars that a man would keep in a leather collar box on his dressing table were not just a fashion fad (as I thought) but were changed daily out of necesity because he would be wearing the same shirt possibly for the whole week. This fact, accompanied with only bathing once a week, would have resulted in a shirt with a very grimy collar, hence the solution of having a number of detachable collars instead. A guided tour is a must if you ever visit "Miegunyah".

Below are a few overall photos I took of some of the rooms in "Miegunyah".

The Drawing Room - most likely originally the main bedroom

Another view of the Drawing Room - showing the piano in one of the front bay windows

The Dining Room - very grand now but would have originally been two smaller rooms

Another view of the Dining Room - showing the other front bay window. Most of the joinery is red cedar while the floors are all of pine.

One room is set up as a Bedroom with a very nice brass & iron bed

The Kitchen - showing blue and white china on one of the kitchen dressers

The following photos show some of the other things you can expect to see on your visit.

This is the Dining Room fireplace. Under the two glass domes are two taxidermied miniature dogs. These dogs are believed to have been pets and specially bred to achieve their small size. Although these two dogs are reputed to be the genuine article, it must be understood that due to the Victorian's demand for the bizarre, the Victorian taxidermist became very skilful at faking tiny adult dogs. Are these two genuine? Let's believe so, however gross you may find them to be. You can read more here.

One of the miniature dogs - probably only about 10-12cm high

The other miniature dog - even much smaller than the first, probably smaller than a rat

Lactogen baby feeder in the Child's Nursery - had to take a photo of this as I collect baby feeders. This one is a little different to the Lactogen feeder that I have in my own collection

Salesman's samples of bentwood furniture. If I had to pick something, these three pieces would probably be my favourites. Would love to have them in my own collection.

Red Cedar display cabinet originally from the old Queensland Museum. I have seen a number of these cabinets from the Queensland Museum in recent years. Saw one at the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park and Museum at Cloncurry earlier this year as well as one similar in the Harrisville & District Museum last year.
This display cabinet housed a collection of Victorian gentleman's smoking caps

Very nice small size butter churn - often see the large size but seldom this half size version. Another item that would look good in my own collection

Nice assortment of vintage irons displayed in the Laundry. I believe the pressure spirit iron at the back right is a rather rare model. Very unusual with a wooden handle that would look more at home on a hand saw. 

Nice little gothic styled clock in the Gentleman's Dressing Room

We ended the morning with a yummy Devonshire Tea on the front verandah of "Miegunyah", overlooking what would have once been part of a large country estate but what is now inner city Brisbane suburbia.

TEA is now being SERVED - "Miegunyah" is still extremely fortunate to have it's original shutters on it's windows. This is one of the front bay windows

Rob and I ready to tuck into our Devonshire Tea. I believe the scones were freshly baked on site by Marilyn, the other  guide working with Marita and looking after visitors on the day.

Karen enjoying a cuppa and some scones with strawberry jam & cream

All served on a "Belle Vue Hotel" plate - could this be from the famous Brisbane Bellevue Hotel that was demolished amidst much controversy in 1979? If so, this could be a collectable in it's own right.

 A few more photos before we leave.

Another detail view of one of the bay windows - showing the space above the window. I imagine many a possum has spent a cosy night camped up there. I would have thought this space would have been sealed off.

The cast iron balustrade and columns were made by the Brisbane Makers of  SMITH FORRESTER & Co

Time to go after a very pleasant morning

A big thanks must go to Marita and Marilyn for their very warm hospitality and also to the 'Queensland Women's Historical Association' for the fine job they have done in preserving a beautiful piece of Brisbane's history.

Now off to the "Windsor and Districts Historical Society", but that's another story.  
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